University of Delaware
Students in a food and resource economics class present their findings.

Food truck, alternative energy

Food and resource economics students complete survey project


3:09 p.m., May 16, 2012--University of Delaware food and resource economics students spent the spring semester conducting surveys and analyzing data on two projects, one concerning a student's proposed food truck business and the second on general campus awareness of alternative energy sources.

The students in the Food and Resource Economics (FREC) 409 class of Rhonda Hyde, associate professor of applied economics and statistics in the College of Agriculture and Natural Resources, presented their findings during a session held Tuesday, May 15, in Robinson Hall.

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Half of the class discussed the results of a survey conducted on behalf of UD student Leigh Tona, who plans to open the I Don’t Give a Fork food truck business this fall, and the other half analyzed data taken from an alternative energy survey.

Food truck survey

The I Don’t Give a Fork food truck will open for business in a space at the Delaware Tire Center on South College Avenue in Newark.

The FREC 409 students working on the project surveyed about 250 people who visited south campus to assess the viability of the business as well as the best times of operation, price points and recommended menu items.

In the end, the students found that there was a large amount of interest in the food cart from the University community, and that many of the 250 people surveyed said that they would visit the food cart in the afternoon, after 4 p.m. There was also a lot of potential for customers on Saturdays, especially during sporting events such as football games. 

With regard to price points, one group found that survey participants were willing to pay $4.67 for a six-inch sub or wrap, while another group found that if Tona does offer a combo meal -- a sandwich, side and drink -- she should raise the price anywhere from $1.27-$1.39 in addition to the sandwich price.

Recommended menu items included sides such as potato chips, pretzels and apples, and drinks such as soda, water and Gatorade. There was a good deal of interest in purchasing tea, as well.

Sandwich suggestions included turkey and cheese on a bagel, and bagels with cream cheese.

Tona, a management major with an entrepreneurial studies minor in the Alfred Lerner College of Business and Economics, was in attendance for the presentations and had a keen interest in the findings. “I’m really surprised to see that people want to come after 4 p.m. because my original plan was to be open 9 a.m.-3 p.m., so I may have to rethink that a little bit,” she said.

Tona did note, however, that she plans on being open to the public in general and not just the UD community, which was the focus of the survey. 

One of the students also pointed out that Tona will probably benefit from the early morning traffic generated by construction at UD's Science, Technology and Advanced Research (STAR) Campus.

Alternative energy survey

The alternative energy survey was used to gauge the amount of awareness that UD professors and students have about three alternative energy sources: solar power, wind power and biomass. 

Select faculty and students were polled regarding their self-reported knowledge of the technology as well as the potential economic, regulatory and sociological barriers of the three alternative energy sources in Delaware.

Faculty and research scientists working in these areas were targeted for the survey. UD students majoring in natural resource management, resource economics, environmental engineering, environmental science, environmental studies and energy policy were also targeted. 

Results revealed some differences in the knowledge areas of the six environmental-oriented majors listed above.

An interesting aspect pointed out by all of the survey study groups was that while UD students consider themselves very knowledgeable about solar and wind power, almost all of them answered that they did not know as much about biomass. 

One group pointed out that the UD wind turbine could possibly contribute to the fact that many students consider themselves knowledgeable about wind power. 

Article by Adam Thomas

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